Hinsdale residents asked to limit water usage

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HINSDALE, N.H. — Hinsdale's water superintendent is asking customers of the town's system to limit their water usage for the time being.

"In view of this abnormally dry season and the amount of people staying home due to the COVID-19, we are noticing more water usage than normal," wrote Jack White in a notice to the community. "To curb this usage we are putting out a level 3 mandatory restriction in the town of Hinsdale (north and downtown) effective June 24 of any lawn watering and or washing of vehicles until further notice."

White told the Reformer that the aquifers the town relies on for its water appear to be in good condition, but with little rain the forecast, it's appropriate to restrict usage.

"Watering your flowers or your garden is fine, but the lawns are dead," he said.

White said he has noticed peak usage between 6 and 8 p.m., when it appears a lot of people are watering their lawns.

"It's a waste of water at this point," he said.

White said water usage has increased this year from last year. Downtown usage last year was around 45,000 gallons a day, he said. This year that's running between 50,000 and 60,000 gallons a day. North Hinsdale usage has jumped even more, said White, from about 180,000 to 250,000 and 260,000 gallons a day.

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"We went around and checked for leaks, but we've found nothing," said White.

One of the town's two gravity tanks, with 250,000 gallons of storage, is temporarily unavailable while it's getting paved, he said.

"The 475,000 gallon tank is being utilized right now," he said.

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The town's water department has about 1,000 customers, said White.

There are four gravel packed wells that feed off aquifers under the town, he said. They have been monitoring the wells and the aquifers and everything seems fine at this time, said White.

People with their own wells are not bound by the restriction.

"We do have enough water to sustain usage, but we want to curb the usage in case the drought continues," said White. "As soon as we get a little bit of rain, this will be lifted."

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White said he is following recommendations recently issued by the state.

"According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor released [June 18], the entire state of New Hampshire has been categorized as abnormally dry," states the recommendation. "Over the last 60 days, the state has received significantly less than normal precipitation."

Northern New Hampshire has received 25 to 50 percent less precipitation than normal, notes the recommendation.

"To the south, the majority of Sullivan, Merrimack, Strafford, Rockingham, Hillsborough, and Cheshire counties have received 50 to 75 percent less precipitation than normal," it notes.

"New Hampshire is approaching a stage of drought because rainfall over the last two months is about 60 percent of normal, and New Hampshire had a significantly less-than-average snowpack this past winter," stated Thomas O'Donovan, the director of the water division of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. "Consequently, stream flows throughout the state are very low and if these weather trends continue, groundwater levels and water supply wells throughout the state will soon begin to be adversely impacted."

NHDES encourages those relying on private residential wells to begin conserving now, states the recommendation. "To protect your well supply, it is recommended that outdoor water use be limited and water use be staggered, allowing the well time to recharge between demands. As drought conditions develop, more municipalities and water utilities will impose outdoor water use restrictions. NHDES urges the public to be conservation-minded and abide by restrictions."

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com.


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